Author Q&A with Jennifer Macaire – Part 3

Blog, Guest Blog, Interview, Q&A, Question Them

cropped-mesite1Jennifer Macaire is an expat wife, mother and novelist living in France. The following is Part Three of a trilogy of weekly Q&As that lead up to today’s re-release of her novel The Road to Alexander, Book One of the epic Time for Alexander series of novels. A separate post with an excerpt of the novel follows this sessions as well (link below).


Q: So this book deals with time-travel, typically a device of science-fiction, but that aspect is rather low-key here. For those curious, and without giving too much away, can you describe your creative use of the concept?

Time-travel fascinates me – and not only for this book, but for everyday things. When I drop a glass and it smashes on the floor, I try to imagine it floating back up and coming together like one of those slow-motion films played backward. I wish I could go back and see people I’ve known, redo certain things differently . . . it’s sort of a constant background noise to my life. So it wasn’t a surprise that I made it the backbone of the story. As for the science, I used quartz for the time transmission and lightning for the power. It’s not all that farfetched. Something has to move fast, and our bodies are frail things. In order to time travel, they have to be unraveled and recomposed – my heroine wonders briefly about arriving with her head on backwards, but even our DNA is programmed so that everything will go back to its correct place. Hopefully. Luckily for me, time-travel hasn’t been invented yet, so I can pretty much do as I like. And as the time-sender scientist says dryly to Ashley, “You wouldn’t understand anyway.” My heroine is a journalist, not a scientist, so she has to trust that everything will turn out all right.

Q: I’ve counted over two dozen books published in your oeuvre. All in roughly, what 15 years? And that’s with so many more to come! That’s quite prolific. What’s your secret to staying on task – do you have a daily routine or specific writing regimen when working on a project?

I wish I had a regular writing routine, but I don’t. However, when I get the seed of a story and it germinates, nothing can stop me from writing it. I can write anywhere, anytime. Nothing bothers me – television blaring, kids fighting, dog barking, dinner burning . . . I’ve written through all that and worse to finish a story.

Q: What’s your next project after the release of all seven books in the Time for Alexander series?

I have two or three ideas I’d like to explore. One is a YA book, with as a hero a boy in a wheelchair. I have lots of research to do in order to start writing it, however. Another idea I had is another time-travel book, this time with a male protagonist who finds himself in the Asian steppes with a Scythian princess. I’m counting on an archeologist/anthropologist friend of mine to help out with it.

Q: I’ll let you go with this last question about the novel you’re releasing TODAY. Book One ends with a scene between our heroine Ashley and the man himself, Alexander The Great, on a quiet yet ominous note, a kind of calm before a coming storm. Can you give us a tease of the first sequel in the series after The Road to Alexander?

In Book Two: Legends of Persia, Alexander is on the most dangerous and difficult part of his fight to recapture the crown. It was a hard book to write, because I tried as much as possible to keep the timetable of his actual battles and travels around Persia. I did, however, take liberties with history. His time-travelling wife, Ashley, knows when he will die, but she doesn’t dare do anything to change things. She hasn’t yet made the decision to save him, so she just tries to savor each instant and live her life with Alexander to the fullest. The book takes Alexander’s army across the mountains and rivers of ancient Bactria. One of my favorite parts is just when the army reaches the top of the pass through the mountains:

Some men were afraid to venture over the rise, believing that the ends of the earth were right there. Even Alexander, whose unquenchable enthusiasm for adventure had led him this far, seemed unsure of himself. He wrapped his arm around his stallion’s neck, and together they walked towards the summit. We stood back. It seemed fitting.

The two figures stood silhouetted against the monstrous sky. The sun was just starting to set, and the rising moon shone on the opposite horizon. It seemed as if he were alone on the top of the earth with only his horse, the sun, and the moon for company. Then he turned to face us, and he raised both arms in triumph. The way was clear. He’d gotten through. The road to Bactria was open. We poured through the pass in a trickle, then a rush as the men hurried to see the marvels that were beyond the mountains.

I was disappointed. It looked like the same road we’d taken, only downhill – but it was downhill, and the rest of the march was made singing. We sang although we were starving. No one had eaten in two days. The meat was gone, the grain and bread were gone, the onions and garlic were gone, and the soldiers chewed whatever edible plants they could find to assuage their hunger. We had no more water, and our pack animals groaned and staggered, but none fell. Perhaps they scented the grass in the fertile valleys around the Kunduz.

We made camp by nightfall. We were ankle-deep in grass. The next day we were knee-deep, and by evening there were fires, and a real camp was being built on the banks of a fast moving mountain brook.

~ (bonus excerpt from Book Two: Legends of Persia, out later this year) ~

And there you have it. This concludes the author Q&A leading up to today’s release of The Road to Alexander from Accent PressNow read the third and final excerpt here. And be sure to check the book out via these handy links: (US) (UK).


new-release


~ About the Author ~

Jennifer Macaire is an American living in Paris. She likes to read, eat chocolate, and plays a mean game of golf. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St Peter and Paul High School in St Thomas and moved to NYC where she modeled for five years for Elite. She went to France and met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories. Her short stories have been published by Three Rivers Press, Nothing But Red, The Bear Deluxe, and The Vestal Review, among others. One of her short stories was nominated for the Push Cart Prize (Honey on Your Skin) and is now being made into a film. Her short story ‘There be Gheckos’ won the Harper Collins /3 AM flash fiction prize.


ICYMI

Author Q&A with Jennifer Macaire – Part 1

The Road to Alexander – 1st Excerpt | Jennifer Macaire

Author Q&A with Jennifer Macaire – Part 2

The Road to Alexander – 2nd Excerpt | Jennifer Macaire

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Author Q&A with Jennifer Macaire – Part 2

Blog, Guest Blog, Interview, Q&A, Question Them

cropped-mesite1Jennifer Macaire is an expat wife, mother and novelist living in France. The following is Part Two of a trilogy of weekly Q&As leading up to the March 9th re-release of her novel The Road to Alexander, Book One of the epic Time for Alexander series of novels. A separate post with an excerpt of the novel will follow each of these sessions as well.


Q: For this book you use a first-person viewpoint. What narrative advantages as well as challenges did that present you with this particular story?

I started this as a short story – otherwise I’m not sure I would have used first person viewpoint, but once I got started, and the story started to develop, it made sense to continue. It gave a more personal touch to the story. I think it connects the reader to the main character in a way that is coherent with the theme of the tale – that of an outsider looking in. Since Ashley is so far removed from the mindset of the people at the time, it gave me a little more freedom to be creative. I didn’t have to worry about justifying or explaining something that I (as a modern woman) could not possibly understand. Ashley has a hard time with slavery, with war (no Geneva conventions in those days) and religion, for example, so it was more fun to be in her head looking out than trying to pretend to be someone from ancient Persia or Greece.

Q: I know you’re a voracious reader. Can you tell us what authors have had the biggest influence on you in recent years?

In recent years, I’d have to say Neil Gaiman – I was a latecomer to his books; my daughter actually got hooked on him first. Also Diana Norman, both her books and the ones she wrote as Ariana Franklin. She was an amazing historical fiction writer.  But I’m not sure my writing style has changed much because of them. I think my style is pretty much set. The writers who I feel truly influenced me were: (in chronological order, no less!) Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut, and Dorothy Dunnett.

Q: Does being an expatriated American residing for so many years in France give you a unique perspective as a story-maker and writer?

Maybe for writing history, lol. I feel surrounded by it here, it’s all over. I go downtown, and there are ruins and towers from the middle ages, and there are even Roman ruins, traces of the Gauls, museums and such everywhere. It’s nice. It was also fun to go to Rome, see the places where I’d set some of the story in my books. And there is an ancient Greek nymphorium near my town, where the people of the time worshipped at a sacred spring. My spellcheck keeps telling me nymphorium doesn’t exist – but I hesitate to call it a temple, since I don’t think nymphs were worshipped in temples. Ah well, there I go being pedantic again. But if you want, you can see a picture of it here:

dscf2511-0


Q&A to be continued next Thursday, March 9th . . . and now read the second (of three) excerpts of The Road to Alexander here.


~ About the Author ~

Jennifer Macaire is an American living in Paris. She likes to read, eat chocolate, and plays a mean game of golf. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St Peter and Paul High School in St Thomas and moved to NYC where she modeled for five years for Elite. She went to France and met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories. Her short stories have been published by Three Rivers Press, Nothing But Red, The Bear Deluxe, and The Vestal Review, among others. One of her short stories was nominated for the Push Cart Prize (Honey on Your Skin) and is now being made into a film. Her short story ‘There be Gheckos’ won the Harper Collins /3 AM flash fiction prize.


ICYMI

Author Q&A with Jennifer Macaire – Part 1

The Road to Alexander – 1st Excerpt | Jennifer Macaire

Question Me – Part 2

Blog, Interview, Q&A, Question Me

square-smashwords-logoSo over at Smashwords they have this built-in interview mechanism where they encourage authors to participate in a Q&A that posts on their profile page and gives interested readers a means to learn a little something about the author in question. Since I’m probably as unknown as they come, I figure it’d be a good idea to do an updated version of that 2015 Q&A here on the ol’ blogsite. Here’s the next weekly installment of the 2017 edition of who the heck am I?, if you will. One question at a time.


Q: What motivated you to become an indie author?

A: In terms of prose books, necessity, more than anything, I suppose.  An avoidance to the odds that are insurmountably stacked against a no-name author.  But also a kind of D-i-Y punk rock mindset of doing things yourself with little reliance on the establishment because they’re not going to go out of their way to make it easy on the un-agented and under-represented, those with a sparse resume—nor would you expect them to.  I was just getting my feet wet publishing in the Small Press when I discovered Smashwords as a viable partner and helpful tool for D-i-Y publishing.  Not that I’m currently in this for the money (ha!), but in terms of the monetary breakdown, self-publishing via digital partners like Smashwords and others, the distribution of earnings from sales is flip-flopped compared to traditional commercial publishing.  I’m a musician as well so the D-i-Y ethos is in my blood.  I suppose the overriding aspect is a sense of control.

As for comic books, well, you’re an indie author by simple default of how one can typically break into that particular industry. At this point it’s a more difficult path than publishing prose fiction. For starters, you have to rely on the contributions of an artist—editors want to see how an artist breaksdown and executes your written script visually. This is I’m told is regardless of the skill of the artist as a basic draftsman and storyteller. 9.9 times out of 10, the route you take there is to self-publish a comic you’ve created via print or the web and have that to kind of shop around to any willing eyes. In fact you have to do that multiple times, either a series of self-financed print publications or a series of webcomics, something visibly there to show that “Hey, I’m pretty good at this and can endure the hardships.” It’s far easier for an illustrator than a writer because they can simply send in or personally show their visual artwork and it’s more immediately reviewable by an industry professional. For writers, like any other industry for writers aside from indie books, it’s a situation of climbing a huge mountain and then once you get to the top of said mountain you find you also have to slay a dragon in order to get that chance to make a first impression.

To be continued . . .


Tune in Thursday for another Q&A with friend and author Jennifer Macaire!


ICYMI

Question Me – Part 1

Author Q&A with Jennifer Macaire – Part 1

Blog, Guest Blog, Interview, Q&A, Question Them

cropped-mesite1Jennifer Macaire is an expat wife, mother and novelist living in France. The following is Part One of a trilogy of weekly Q&As leading up to the March 9th re-release of her novel The Road to Alexander, Book One of the epic Time for Alexander series of novels. A separate post with an excerpt of the novel will follow each of these sessions as well.


Hello, Jennifer! I suppose in introducing you I should start with the fact that I have known you, my fellow scribe, for over fifteen years now and I’m amazed at the literary trail you’ve blazed the last decade-and-a-half in rather prolific fashion with more than two dozen novels (and countless short stories) published. And so here I welcome you, my dear friend abroad, to chat about your latest publishing event. 

Hi Brandon, thank you for having me as a guest blogger to talk about my upcoming book The Road to Alexander, the first in a series about a time traveler who is sent back to interview Alexander the Great. He mistakes her for Persephone, goddess of the dead, and kidnaps her, stranding her in his time.

Q: First question for you – What inspired you to write this epic story about Alexander the Great?

A: It started out as a short story – I had been writing and selling short stories to magazines, and I just had an idea of a sort of alternate history short story where Alexander the Great is never bitten by the mosquito that caused his fatal malaria. I wrote it from the viewpoint of a woman time-traveler/journalist, but when I came to the part where she slaps the mosquito away…I just kept going. In fact, I kept going for seven novels which became the Time for Alexander series. In the first book, The Road to Alexander, I even left the part about the mosquito, and you can catch it if you’re paying attention although it’s no longer important to the plot. I ended up shifting everything around, because he dies in Babylon and I needed to introduce the time-traveling character at the beginning of his great adventure.

Q: What type of research did you have to do for your book?

A: I researched extensively. I used several books on Alexander the Great, including In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great, by Michael Wood, which was produced by the BBC. It was extremely helpful, because the author literally took the path Alexander’s army took across Persia and Bactria on foot. The book was indispensable for calculating how long it took to get from one place to another. More research was done on the army, how it moved, who was in it, and how Alexander fought his battles. Still more was for daily rituals: food, medicine, clothes, money, toothpaste, and religious ceremonies. I researched constantly – every time I had a question I’d either write to an expert or hit the library and search out books. I’m not big on Internet research, it’s too hard to verify facts, but I did use the Internet to put myself in touch with authors and historians. Everyone was very helpful, and I learned a great deal about ancient Greece and Rome!

Q: Do you prefer to plot your story or just go with the flow?

A: I am a plotter and use outlines. I’ve written a couple books just “going with the flow”, but they took forever to finish because I kept getting distracted. I much prefer a chapter-by-chapter outline. This book had to be plotted out using existing people and historical events, the army’s movements, and take into account the seasons and weather, so it was vital to have a strong outline. Within that framework I took many liberties. One of the tricks of writing historical fiction is to keep real events pinned to their place and time. I had to move some of the characters around – I had one of Alexander’s generals interacting directly with Alexander when most historians agree he was back in Macedonia – but I needed him there, so thanks to the wonders of fiction, there he was! It is a work of fiction, after all!

Q&A to be continued next Thursday, March 2nd . . . and now read the first (of three) excerpts here.


new-release


~ About the Author ~

Jennifer Macaire is an American living in Paris. She likes to read, eat chocolate, and plays a mean game of golf. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St Peter and Paul High School in St Thomas and moved to NYC where she modeled for five years for Elite. She went to France and met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories. Her short stories have been published by Three Rivers Press, Nothing But Red, The Bear Deluxe, and The Vestal Review, among others. One of her short stories was nominated for the Push Cart Prize (Honey on Your Skin) and is now being made into a film. Her short story ‘There be Gheckos’ won the Harper Collins /3 AM flash fiction prize.


ICYMI

Jennifer Macaire on Patience + Writing

Question Me – Part 1

Blog, Interview, Q&A, Question Me

square-smashwords-logoSo over at Smashwords they have this built-in interview mechanism where they encourage authors to participate in a Q&A that posts on their profile page and gives interested readers a means to learn a little something about the author in question. Since I’m probably as unknown as they come, I figure it’d be a good idea to do an updated version of that 2015 Q&A here on the ol’ blogsite. So what follows is the first weekly installment of the 2017 edition of who the heck am I?, if you will. One question at a time.


Q: When did you first start writing?

A: I’ll answer this with when I first started writing prose seriously. And that was in the winter or spring of 1993 when after reading my mom’s paperback copy of Dean Koontz’s Watchers (1987) novel in late 1992 (which I still have)  and being deeply influenced by that reading experience and thinking I wanted to
be as imaginative and accomplished someday in deftly telling 2524_57suspenseful stories in a very accessible way.  I’d dabbled a little before that (the oldest story I remember writing was in 1989 or so), but at the time I still wanted to be a comic book writer since I’d been reading them for about seven years prior to getting bit by the novel and short story writing bug.  So fast-forward to 2017 and I’ve been writing seriously for about 24 years, with a few breaks here and there.

As for journalism writing, I lit the wick in high school as the school paper’s editorial editor, which suited me well because even though I had the title of editor, I was the only writer for that section of the paper and thus was free to write on whatever subject I wanted. The editor part of it was being the decision-maker as to what I would write about and of course staying on top of things in terms of deadlines and such.

Prior to discovering prose writing, though, I’d been wanting to be a comic book writer ever since I started reading comics in the mid-1980s. I used to draw my own little mini-comics and eventually started writing these dialogue-only scripts because as a kid I had no idea how you wrote them. Yet, all these years my dream to someday be writing them professionally has never waned. If you read comics regularly, you love them, and if you love them you want to create them yourself. It’s no different than reading prose books in that sense. The desire to create is fed by the consumption.

To be continued . . .


Tune in Thursday for my Q&A with friend and author Jennifer Macaire!


ICYMI

Three Questions with Brandon Rucker

2-Minute Drill Q&A with Brandon Rucker

A Chat with Aliens In the Soda Machine Author REGGIE LUTZ

Indie Authors, Interview, Q&A, Question Them

AITSM - Cover 2Welcome to the first edition of Causing a Ruckus on Ruckerpedia, in which I your host conducts an exclusive Q&A interview session with someone you should know more about.  In this inaugural edition I have fellow indie author Reggie Lutz (I’ve said this before, call her Regina at your own peril).

On Friday, May 1st via Amazon, Ms. Lutz (author of the novel Haunted) will release Aliens in the Soda Machine and Other Strange Tales, a small short story collection of ten terrific tales, featuring the lead story “Ice Mason”, originally published in Best New Writing 2008 (Hopewell Publications, 2008), and for which she received the Publisher’s Choice designation for the Eric Hoffer Award; “One-Hundred-Eyed Curse”, which originally saw light in the Greek Myths Revisited anthology (Wicked East Press, 2011); the novella “Fork You – A Gladiola Johnson Story (For Proserpine)” originally from Panverse One (Panverse Publishing, 2009); and the title story which was previously unpublished, while six other new stories round out the collection. So, without further ado, here’s my Q&A [ plus anecdotes ] with author Reggie Lutz.


RUCKER: So, inquiring minds want to know what’s the skinny on Reggie Lutz?  Take us beyond your being the indie author of the novel Haunted and the new story collection Aliens in the Soda Machine and Other Strange Tales.  Who the heck are ya?

LUTZ: I am an enigma wrapped in a mystery boxed in puzzlement and wrapped in a conundrum. (Sorry, couldn’t resist!) What a big question!  Although for simplicity’s sake, I’m a writer. In the 90s I was a radio broadcaster at a 50,000 watt FM station broadcasting the modern rock format.  Stories and music are my first, truest loves.

RUCKER: During our recent chat I heard you pronounce your last name as Luh’ts, yet all these years I’ve pronounced it as Loots, thinking it was German derived.  However, you say that the way I’ve said it actually isn’t too far from the Italian surname from which is derived?  Tell us a historical story, Reggie.

LUTZ: This is funny because even within my family there are different pronunciations, which is really interesting to me because it is a four-letter, one-syllable word.  The name, three generations ago, was changed in the course of immigration.  It was originally Luzi, from my Italian ancestors.

[ Yeah, that falls right in line with many Italian immigrants in the twentieth century ]

RUCKER: In your own words, how would you describe your spankin’ new story collection, Aliens in the Soda Machine and Other Strange Tales (available Friday, May 1st on Amazon, folks)?

LUTZ: It’s an eerie, eclectic mix of stories featuring elements of urban fantasy, new weird, and interstitial fiction.  I’ve been told it also has strong literary sensibilities.  It’s hard to define, but for that reason I think it’s interesting and unique.

[ I’ve been reading it this week and I can’t disagree with that assertion. ]

RUCKER: Do you have a standout piece in this collection that’s particularly special to you?  Yes, I’m asking you to pick your favorite child and explain why that child shines a little brighter than its siblings.  Surely there’s one you hold most dear?

LUTZ: That is such a hard question!  It keeps changing! The novella, “Fork You”, is near and dear to my heart.  It was originally published in the Panverse One anthology and is how I became friends with Dario Ciriello who wrote the introduction for Aliens in the Soda Machine and Other Strange Tales.  Then there is the title piece, which I love because I was able to include radio in the fiction.

RUCKER: I understand that in addition to the digital version of this book for the Kindle that there’s also a paperback edition … and, what’s that you say?  It’s already available?  Wait … what?  I’m confused, Ms. Lutz.  Got a story for us?

LUTZ: Ha!  Yes.  The paperback was also slated for release on May 1, but as I was going through, making my approvals, I accidentally made it available.  After I discovered the error, I found that someone had already ordered it and I did not want to disappoint anyone else who might have discovered it by removing it from availability.  In my head the official release date is still May 1st.

RUCKER: Your readers have come to expect unique story titles from you, some of which are in this very collection like “Famous Nudes in Winter Clothing”, “Fork You – A Gladiola Johnson Story (For Proserpine)” and of course the story the collection is named after.  Do those eye-catching titles simply come naturally to you, or is it something you labor over a little bit?  I’m guessing it’s the former.

LUTZ: It’s a bit of both.  Sometimes a title is a struggle, so I’ll use something as a place-holder, just a way to reference the story I’m writing so that I can find it in the computer or notebook, depending on how it’s getting written.  Sometimes the placeholder sticks.  All three of those titles were initially placeholders until I decided they could stay.

RUCKER: You and I have talked about the difference between being a free-willing-polish-it-later “pantser”, which is what one has to do during NaNoWriMo for instance, or being an obsessive-compulsive like me which means you’re constantly rewriting and polishing as you go along.  Which would be your usual tendency?

LUTZ: I tend to romanticize the idea of being a pantser.  At heart that’s what I am, and it is how I approach a first draft, up to a point.  But I find that in order to get to the end of a messy first draft I need to know a few things before I start, so I’m somewhere in the middle at present.  I can’t revise as I go or I would never finish a piece, so I came up with a method for dealing with uncertainties in the first draft, which is to leave behind parenthetical notes to self.  The parentheses act as a signal to look closely at something when it’s time for first pass edits.  It gets confusing when parentheses are meant to be part of the text, however.

[ I can imagine.  My friend, you’ve inspired me to try pantsing later this year, which I’ve not done in a great many moons.  I’m sweating and twitching already! ]

HauntedRUCKER: Is there a method to your madness, meaning is there a certain routine you get into, or method you use to become a successfully productive author?

LUTZ: The big thing is to write every day.  I wake up, put the coffee on and 15 minutes later I am writing.  I have a day job, though, which sometimes means I have to change that schedule.  I find I am less productive on days when I have work in the morning.  Methods for productivity are something I have been thinking about a lot lately.  The single most useful thing that I do is write the first draft until it is finished, without revising until I get to the end.  I think that’s just something I learned about how I write, meaning if I don’t push through to the end, I won’t finish something.

[ A lesson you’d think I’d stubbornly learn well in recent years.  You see, this is why I try to stay associated with smart, inspiring people like you, Reggie. ]

RUCKER: Since you’re a music junkie like me, I have to ask: do you write to music – random selections or a created soundtrack – or do you have to have total silence?  In other words, can your two loves coexist peacefully?

LUTZ: I do both, total silence and music.  Music helps me get into the right headspace on days when I’m struggling to reach that state of story immersion, but if I’m not having a hard time getting there, I’ll dive into the fiction.  Usually toward the end of a session I end up putting something on.  Lately I’ve been listening to Hal Hartley’s soundtrack for Ned Rifle, which is this great minimalist ambient stuff that is really excellent, for me, to get into the right headspace.  So can my two great loves co-exist peacefully?  Sometimes, but not always.

[ I am exactly the same.  Mostly anymore, though, I have to use music to obscure outside noise. ]

RUCKER: Because the lessons are always worth repeating, can you tell would-be aspiring indie authors what the most difficult and the most rewarding things about self-publishing have been for you?

LUTZ: The most difficult is still self-promotion and marketing.  It can be a lot of fun, but the thing to remember is that if you want to make a living at this it has to be done.  There are a lot of most rewarding things about self-publishing:  creative control, you retain your rights, etc… I have to say, though, that my absolutely favorite thing about having gone this route is that there is something new to learn all the time.  There were some things that were intimidating to do on my own before I started, and it felt awesome to realize that with a bit of effort I could learn to do those things on my own.  It is worth the work.  You are constantly accruing new skills.

RUCKER: I’m gonna take ya back now.  Those early pieces you brought to my old virtual workshop, “Monkeymen” and “Grunts (NaNoWriMo working title)”, what are the fates of those old school pieces?

LUTZ: “Monkeymen” just stalled and hasn’t been completed, though I’d like to revisit it and perhaps restructure it as a novella.  There’s actually a blog post on my site that sort of references what happened there.  I was writing that during one of those times when my head kept getting turned by other ideas.  I was juggling multiple projects at that time before I really developed a method for it, and Monkeymen turned out to be a casualty (Monkeymen was about a set of fraternal triplets born with prehensile tails and how they cope with that into adulthood).

[ Fascinating concept, I must say.  Please get back to it sometime before I die. ]

“Grunts” I completed but I haven’t revisited that to do the serious edits it needs.  It was a pretty bizarre and dark horror story that was incredibly painful to write, if artistically satisfying to execute.  Thematically it’s really about the terror and uncertainty of going through life without purpose and what happens when your decisions are always made by external authority figures.  If I can remember the setting and plot correctly, it’s about a nameless character called The Subject, who works at a call center. She is being stalked by a government spy who becomes obsessed and is then rescued (or is she?) by other government experiments gone awry, while the very nature of existence comes into question because landscape features are disappearing into a heavy fog, leaving the world changed when it lifts.  Somehow, nanotechnology and nano-sized aliens are also involved.  And monads!

[ Mind = blown ]

I believe I opened it with a quote from Gottfried Liebniz:

“…when we expect that there will be daylight tomorrow, we do so empirically, because it has always happened so up to the present time.”

I was obsessed with the mysticism inherent in some of Liebniz’s thoughts at that time, although I’m not sure I knew what to do with it.  I was also reading Pynchon.  Now that you have me chatting about it, maybe I will go back and edit that one.

RUCKER: What can you tell the world about yourself that you haven’t yet revealed?  Can you give us a Ruckerpedia exclusive before you go?  Maybe something about a sequel with a yet-to-be-announced title. . .hmm?

LUTZ: Yes! I can! I’m currently working on a sequel to Haunted, titled Getting On With It, which follows the continuing misadventures of the McTutcheon sisters. Readers had asked to know more and I was not initially planning to continue but once the question was asked my brain started poking me with ideas.  I’m shooting for a December release.  Fingers-crossed I don’t hit any snags, there!

[ You read/heard/whatever it here first folks – The Management ]


Reggie LutzAbout Reggie Lutz

(From Amazon): Reggie Lutz lives on top of a mountain with a parrot who offers editing advice and a dog who offers comic relief. A radio broadcaster in the 90s and early 2000s, she has turned her attention to fiction, although she can sometimes be heard in a volunteer capacity at WRKC.

Personal Notes: I want to thank Reggie for being a guest here on Ruckerpedia.  Previous to conducting this Q&A she and I had our first ever video chat in which I learned immediately that she’s exactly how I imagined her to be in all these years just reading her words: smart, witty, down-to-earth and funny, as no doubt evident from the chat above.  She is one of those people I’m fortunate to have become associated with by a chance encounter.  We first ‘virtually met’ at the Zoetrope Virtual Studio in autumn of 2008 within my online personal office there, which housed a congregation of new novel writers dedicated to work-shopping novel chapters.  She had brought in to the group two works-in-progress titled “Monkeymen” and “Grunts” (working title), both of which were mentioned in the above chat.  Since then we’ve been buddies on the Interwebs, but obviously have never met in person.  Reggie’s from Northeast Pennsylvania (as an early transplant from New Jersey as well as Long Island, NY), while I’m from Indiana (which is now a totally unflattering thing to reveal these days).  Both of us are noted music geeks so naturally we somehow wound up having a random but curious discussion about her encounter with one J. Robbins, formerly of beloved D.C. post-punk/post-hardcore band Jawbox (one of my absolute favorite bands of all time).  At any rate, if you’re reading this then you should definitely check out her fiction work (available on Amazon).  And if you happen to see her at a bookstore signing, make sure you stop by to say Hi.

Interview: Three Questions with Brandon Rucker

Editing, Interview, Q&A, Question Me

This little Q and A interview is taken from the lastest edition of the Liquid Currents Newsletter we have for Liquid Imagination Online. You can read a transcript of the interview below or click this link for the entire newsletter, which also features an interview with poet Felino A. Soriano, another Daily Kick in the Pants from David Farland, and other news (plus the last edition is just below it).

Without further ado . . . the interview:

Three Questions with Brandon Rucker

1) You landed an editing job with a publication that was once associated with Zoetrope Virtual Studios and Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope: All-Story, and you did this while still new to the game. What qualities did you have to make them take notice?

Wow. You’re taking me way back so I will have to grab a dust mop to clear away the dense cobwebs in this cluttered mind of mine. If you will, allow me a moment to recall the history and some details about Zoetrope: All-Story Extra. Better yet, I can just provide the official description (edited in past-tense):

  • All-Story Extra was an on-line supplement to Francis Coppola’s fiction magazine, Zoetrope: All-Story. Each month, All-Story Extra featured two new stories submitted by writers via Zoetrope’s on-line submissions site. The stories were chosen and edited by guest editors—also members of Zoetrope’s on-line submissions site—with assistance from the New York editorial staff of Zoetrope: All-Story. All-Story Extra was created by Francis Coppola and five members of Zoetrope’s on-line submissions site, who comprised the Peer Advisory Board (PAB). The PAB selected the guest editors and nominated the stories that the guest editors considered for All-Story Extra. Guest editors could also consider stories featured in “The Top Three” stories and/or any others that they think worthy of publication.

Aside from that, I don’t know any finer details in regards to ASE’s founding or its inner workings. I do know that old school workshop members Mare Freed and Jim Nichols were part of that Peer Advisory Board, and were also the original Editorial Coordinators (i.e. liaisons). The Editorial Coordinator during my time, Barbara Garrett, was a good friend and a joy to work with during my stint.

Here’s a fun fact: the founding editors had also had work published in ASE as well. The reason their stories were eligible to be published through ASE is because the identity of the authors were anonymous so that the Guest Editor could have a more unbiased selection process, if I remember correctly. Finicky reader and maverick that I am, I went outside of the Top 3 as well as the other nominated stories suggested by the PAB because I was not overly impressed with what had been considered the ‘best stories’ by the voting membership. I cared even less for popularity contests or politics.

Now, to get back to your question more directly, in my opinion, the condition for Guest Editor, like any voluntary activity, requires that you have drive and passion, along with a selfless desire to help your peers achieve the goal of publishing. Naturally it helps to have some kind of editorial mindset, too. That might be an understatement.

Months earlier I was one of the founding editors of the fledgling (and now long defunct) webzine called Z End Zine which was founded and published by Kieran Galvin, who had corralled a handful of us upstart Zoetrope members to branch out into online publishing using his server. This was also a volunteering position, so the above ‘qualities’ applied. Naturally some of the workshop luminaries landed bylines in our small handful of issues. A few months later, I suppose I still had the editor’s itch because I found myself doing a two-month stint as Guest Editor for Zoetrope: All-Story Extra.

Another fun fact: I was the only guest editor to A.) Work without another guest editor, B.) Serve on two consecutive issues of Zoetrope: All-Story Extra [issues 22 (May 2000) and 23 (June 2000)].

2) Now you’re editing micro-fiction at Liquid Imagination. Is the editing different between micro-fiction and short stories (don’t laugh).

Other than having a smaller word count to read and scrutinize, I would have to say no, not really. I think in editing you bring a lot of the same core fundamentals to all forms of writing. The focus may change in some ways with a given form, but I still approach the writing with a sharp eye on the story details, the craft and basic mechanics of the writing, as well as a what I like to term as the ‘organics’ of the writing. That said, I think many editors approach another writer’s work as if it were their own, and that’s not something I like to do because the writing is not mine. However, with my name endorsing the writing, I do take the same amount of care and quality assurances as I would with my own writing, but I believe that my job as an editor is to support the author’s vision and, if I can, somehow enhance that vision to its utmost clarity.

3) Music and writing. As an accomplished musician who also interpreted every piece of poetry in one of our past issues, I can truthfully say that you know music, perhaps as well as you know writing. How does music and writing relate to each other? How do they differ? The reason I’m asking is because it takes an act of creativity to write a song, and songs often tell stories that are accompanied by music. And something else I want to know (so make this 4 questions with Brandon Rucker): Does inspiration used to write a song come from the same place from which you conjure up the inspiration to write a story?

Great, tough questions, which respectfully deserve to be answered after careful consideration. I think this is one of those things that multi-media-dwelling artists undoubtedly know internally, but rarely ever articulate into words for a general audience, so I will try my best to articulate this well.

The easy answer of how music and writing relate to each other is that, for me, their origins likely trace back to the same well. Yet I think motivations and goals can differ greatly and even sometimes be mutually exclusive at the same time. This isn’t double-speak, mind you. I just think that the variables are innumerable in the grand scheme of art. You know me. I should probably leave you with the easy answer on that part, otherwise we’ll be here a while. I always say, though, that most if not all art is ‘performance art’ because it is almost always created for an expected audience. Rarely is art created in a vacuum.

The obvious difference is in the sensory perception: one is auditory, the other visual. Another particular way writing music and writing words differs is that a musician is afforded the luxury of impressing upon the listeners the array of emotions he wants his audience to experience almost immediately. Sure, it’s not quite as immediate as, say, a visual artist who can get your reaction to their painting or sculpture within several seconds of viewing, but the gratification you get from listening to a piece of music is certainly a swifter experience than with reading a piece of fiction that’s more than a thousand words long. On the other hand, reading the words of a fiction writer is a little more interactive because the reader can then engage their (liquid) imagination, transport themselves into the story and become a part of it.

I think, for me, inspiration to write music definitely comes from a different place than the inspiration used to thrust me into writing a story. First, you have to understand that I’m far more into the actual music than say the words or even the vocals (though vocal melodies are a big part of what makes or breaks music with words). I’m an instrumentalist first, a vocalist dead last, LOL. So when I sit down with the guitar, or keyboard, or even the drum machine, my inspiration as well as my goal is far different than when I sit down to transform the story in my head into words on a page. For me, music comes from deep within my soul, and it may be cliché to say that it is innate, but for me that is certainly true. On the other hand, writing words is more cerebral. It is much more of a heady experience for me compared to music. Don’t get me wrong, composing and performing music can be a heady experience as well. Writing stories, even when inspired by true emotions, is still a more mentally challenging exercise because all of the filtering that we have to do as we channel the stories, the fictionalized lives of people and the world.

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